Inherent to this journey — all journeys — is the expectation that they will end. When I stepped onto a plane in Minneapolis this February, I know exactly when I would step back off one. Linear, right? One hundred thirty-seven days. Each hour here lasted just as long as the one before it. But the lazy summer faded into cool autumn, and winter brought with it a lurking imminence. Departure crept closer, until I could see it on the next calendar page — then the current one — then the next week —
I don’t need to tell you about all the places I’ve visited, or about all the things I’ve learned: I’ve already told you that. You’ve seen pictures. You’ve read stories. I don’t need to tell you again how amazing or fun or eye-opening it was.
And I don’t need to tell you how much I’ll miss it. I’m leaving the ocean, the mountains, the hills. I’m leaving those who are lucky enough to call this place home. I’ll miss them, and I’ll miss New Zealand — but you already know that.
So what am I here to tell you?
This trip started as a dream, a way to distract myself when I was an overworked high schooler still studying at 2 am. Late in those nights, I’d allow myself brief respites of imagination, scrolling wide-eyed through pictures of places I’d rather be. New Zealand was always the most beautiful; for those scant minutes, fatigue was replaced with bubbly, far-reaching thoughts of adventure. I don’t think I believe in destiny, or fate, or anything construed as divine coincidence — but I think all paths would have eventually taken me here.
Today, I’m telling you to realize crazy dreams. To check off your “someday” list. To see new places, meet new people, and find new love in both of them. Do things that are exciting, the things you wish you had the time or money or courage for. Go to mountaintops and beaches and cities you’ve never walked in. And then, after that: go home. Come back to whatever you left with new perspectives, new friends, and heaps of stories about all your adventures.
I look back on the past five months with incredulity, hardly believing I was lucky enough to travel here and make such fantastic memories. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve gotten from family, friends, and everyone who helped make this semester a reality. Thank you to everyone reading this blog: it’s been enormously fun to write, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
When I land in Minneapolis this Sunday, I’ll be returning to the place I know best, the place I’ll always return to. This time, though, I know that there’s another place that will always be waiting for me — and I know I’ll be back someday. Ka kite anō, Aotearoa: see you again.